ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
BACH / BUXTEHUDE - Benjamin-Joseph Steens (Organ)


BACH / BUXTEHUDE - Various Organ Works - Benjamin-Joseph Steens (Organ) - 5425008376189 - Released: August 2010 - Evil Penguin Records EVLP 3

Here we have a great starter disc with a wonderfully thought out choice of program. The playing is full of vitality and gusto on some parts. Delicacy and clarity of thought on others. A well worked out balance. The choice of instruments is done to great advantage. The Cattiaux organ in the Saint Remi Basilica of Reims and the Bernard Aubertin organ in Vertus are two modern instruments built to play a variety of music. But they shine playing the baroque masters. The opening piece is a real barn burner. Wonderful classical french trumpets in a grand fanfare. I always like hearing this piece done with great reeds. And you get them in all their glory in this track. The Ciaconna in E minor will set you aback for a moment in the beginning. Mr. Steens uses a variant in the beginning that sets the theme up very nicely. And there is a very thoughtful use of registrations throughout.

The organ at Vertus is a little monster in some ways. Very extroverted reeds are there when called upon. But the opening is soft and gentle Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland BuxWV 211. I enjoy this track for the gentle parts. Very peaceful.

The end of the disc is the great Passacaglia in C-Minor. Time to fess up. I tend to really dislike the renditions that start off on the plenum sound and go from there to play the whole Passacaglia. Up until now. This is one of the few times I had to sit back put my own prejudices aside and admit that this works. And works well. All in all a very well executed recording in sound quality, program choice. The thoughtful playing of the music makes this a thoroughly recommended disc to those who are starting out in listening to organ music and a great addition to those who have a good collection already. Two thumbs up!

I almost forgot to mention the DVD! Yes you get to see the organs, and listen to the builders. See Mr. Steens family and kids. You get the tour of the Steen family pipe organ. Complete with the son of Steen showing where the low end is! All the way down to the left and a big grin on the little tike!

Mark Kravchenko